Monday, February 21, 2011

Epicurus and Stephen Hawking

As some of you might have figured out I'm rereading The City of God by St. Augustine. An interesting thing came up. Augustine notes that Epicurus (and his school in general) taught that there are a infinite number of universes. I looked it up in Copleston and low and behold, yes he did. As you might recall, Stephen Hawking proposed something almost identical a while back. It's quite interesting how evolutionary and materialistic thinking haven't really advanced. It's all old-time ancient Epicureanism! Of course both modern materialism and Epicureanism have to operate with the same assumptions. 1. Matter can just somehow fly together in ways that seems purposeful, but somehow isn't. 2. Since it would take an infinite number of tries for that actually to happen, then he must have happened an infinite number of times in the past and our universe must simply have been the one that got it right. As the univese stands it's so fine tuned that one either has to go with a creator and designer or the other thing. Of course, there is no empirical evidence of the multiple universes, whereas there are credable historical witnesses that claim contact with that creator-designer fellow. So which do you consider to be more logical and trustworhty a theory?


  1. Since both theories require a leap of faith, I take the one enabled by the Holy Spirit. Or as Luther put it "What does this mean?

    I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith; even as He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith; in which Christian Church He forgives daily and richly all sins to me and all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true."

    As an interesting note: check out this article; which is quite fascinating regarding Christian Peter Hitchens and his atheist brother Christopher Hitchens although Peter could use a little Luther.

  2. If it would take an infinite amount of universes to bring about the infinitesimally improbably existence that we enjoy, then we would not have just one, but an infinite number just like us.

    It's like the hypothetical infinite number of monkeys sitting at typewriters plucker letters at random. The conclusion is that one of them would produce the complete text of Hamlet or some such thing. But, the correct conclusion is that an infinite number of monkeys would produce an infinite number of copies of Hamlet (not to mention copies that were 1, 2, 3, etc. letters off!)

    I think I may have actually read that long ago in Philip Johnson's Reason in the Balance.

  3. Andrew- I would disagree. Luther is talking about trusting in the promise of the gospel. As Paul states in Romans 1 and David in Psalm 19, God's existence as the designer of the cosmos is obvious and not a leap of faith by any means. We have every reason to believe that the univese has a designer, not least because of the moral code that was written in our hearts (Romans 2)and because of the existence of historically demonstrable acts of revelation on God's part (the resurrection being chief among them).

    That God exists and rules his creation isn't automatically good news though. In fact, for sinners, it's decidedly bad news (see Paul in Romans 1!). The disciples could see Jesus with their own eyes-no need for faith- but they were still "greatly afraid." I personally would be extremely afraid if I abandoned my best friend to death and then he was resurrected having received "all power in heaven and on earth."

    What faith is then, is not believing the impossible or the irrational. Rather it is believing God's promises of grace in the gospel overagainst the condemnation that is apparent to us by looking at creation. To believe that we are forgiven for Christ's sake takes God turning us entirely around. We want so badly to self-justify that neither the claim of the law (you can't self-justify) or the gospel (you don't need to, God has already) could ever been credible to us.

  4. Dr. Kilcrease ,
    As we continually rationalize and explain away God, His creation and salvation it does take a leap of faith to even believe in Him. We are surrounded by theories that state truthfulness even when they are really just theories.

    Anyway, I should have used the explanation to the first article. I should have emphasized the I believe component as well. Thank you for taking me to task.